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Donna Galanti is a member of the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group and a regular attendee at the Philadelphia Liars Club Writer’s Coffeehouse. If she couldn’t write she would bike, hike, and kayak every day. She’s also the author of a memoir Letters from BootCamp (iUniverse), written after a stint as a U.S. Navy photographer in Hawaii. She holds a B.A. in English from SUNY Albany and is an entrepreneur at heart with a background in marketing. She operated a resume writing service for years until she closed up shop to write novels. Donna dreamed of being a writer at seven years old when she fell in love with Narnia and Roald Dahl. She lived in England at the time, attending school in a magical castle where her imagination ran wild in an itchy uniform (bowling hat and tie included). She now lives in Pennsylvania with her family and two crazy cats in an old farmhouse. It has lots of writing nooks, fireplaces and stink bugs, but she’s still wishing for a castle again. Visit her at: www.donnagalanti.com
on Sep. 03, 2012 :
I was intrigued first by the cover to this book, and then by the premise. It has all my hot buttons: serial killers, psychic powers, romance ... what's not to like?
The book starts off with a bang, literally. A meteor falls to earth while a little boy watches. In another place and time, a few months later, babies are born and one is surrendered to a mysterious man in black, putting into play everything that matters in the book.
We spend about half this book watching our hero and heroine grow up. I admit to finding the heroine, Laura, a little too perfect, too nice, too friendly, too loving. She seemed to have no flaws. But the hero more than made up for it since he seemed to have no virtues. I admit, I struggled to like him and giving him the label "hero" felt wrong.
Still, they were clearly meant to be together, and as they came together he began to redeem himself and to find that sweet little boy he used to be. Laura never developed any real flaws, but I liked watching her with Ben. It made her seem a bit more normal, which may have been the author's intention.
The evil here is truly evil in every way. I shudder to think that something like X-10 could ever exist. He had no mercy, no pity, no positive emotions. He thrived on hate and anger and perverted lusts. The courage Laura must have had to face him would have been enormous.
"A Human Element" had everything it needed to be a edge-of-your seat thriller, but I found it a bit slow. I think we spent just a little too much time watching Ben and Laura grow up. Some parts of their lives were integral to the plot (like Laura's friend, Jim...I really loved him!), but some was a bit dull and unnecessary.
Still, overall it was a good book with an ending that surprised me. Ms. Galanti has an amazing imagination and solid writing skills, and I expect to see great things in the future from her.
(reviewed long after purchase)
on Aug. 16, 2012 :
I really enjoyed this book and struggled to put it down, this book is truly one of a kind and Galanti’s writing is stunning. I was so impressed with how Galanti covered issues such as rape, depression and death in such a real and gritty way, the events in this book haven’t been sugar-coated and I respect her immensely for this. It was refreshing to really get inside all of the character’s heads so thoroughly. I also loved being able to watch Laura and Ben grow from young children to adulthood, it was great to see how they changed and grew through the years
I loved that Galanti switched between both of the main characters in the book so easily and I never felt lost or confused about where I was in the story. In the beginning I really believed it was a story about Laura but as it progressed I realised that although she is the main character, she isn’t the only one with a story to tell. I found her character very likeable and as a young girl she is very sweet and innocent and although this is always at the heart of her character, she does change a lot towards the end of the book. She becomes stronger and learns to accept herself for exactly who and what she is and I believe this was point Galanti was trying to make with her character. That you can’t change who you are, you just have to believe in yourself.
I loved Ben, I found him to be a very believable character and I could relate to him in many ways despite not having anything in common with him, he is a brilliant example of how someone can turn their life around and I loved that everything about him was far from perfect and Galanti wasn’t afraid to write about his many flaws in excruciating detail. He is a seriously troubled character and I really didn’t think he would ever find his happy ending until practically the last page but in the end I was pleasantly surprised.
My favourite character was Mr B. and I have a major soft spot for him, he begins the book as a grumpy, lonely old man (or at least that’s what he wants us to believe) but his character grows into a lovely open and honest person by the end of the story, I loved his and Laura’s relationship and especially their little thesaurus competitions, it may seem strange to some that an old man befriends an eleven year old girl but their relationship was sweet and enjoyable throughout the whole book, it really lightened the tone with all the drama going on.
X-10/ Charlie was the character that I really wanted to hate from start to finish but somehow couldn’t quite bring myself to feel anything but sorry for him. He is such a self-destructive character and his actions are nothing short of evil but I couldn’t help but see the lost little boy inside of him. His character surprised me the most in the end and I have to say Galanti developed him beautifully. He really is one of a kind.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on Aug. 05, 2012 :
Here we go…
I am not an avid fan of sci-fi. Although I have read a couple of books that I can count on my ten fingers since I started reading. However, Human Element had me hooked. It was as if I was running hard on the field – eager to find what is waiting for me on the finish line. It was exhilarating ride from start to finish.
The story started in Coopersville Lake in the summer of 1979, where Ben who was then 9 years old and his parents were enjoying their summer vacation. Ben ran away from their cottage and went into the lake, leaving his parents to worry for him. He didn’t like to learn a musical instrument and was ‘teaching’ his parents a lesson. Then suddenly, a blast of green hit the area and young Ben lost everything. The following year (1980), a virgin gave birth to twins: a boy who was way larger and way far from normal and a girl who was so small and almost perfect. The two events strangely related to each other changed the lives of those who are involved. Ben’s world had ended; the twins were separated and grow up in two different worlds.
Ben was first introduced as a young boy who hated musical instruments as much as his parents loved it. The green blast took both his parents and made him an orphan. He was transferred from one foster home to another until he was finally old enough and has saved enough to run away from home. His experience with foster homes made him hate everything around him. He joined the navy, met Andy who became a good friend and once again found himself in danger of dying – but this time someone saved his life. It was a very mysterious man in black. I think Ben is a lost soul who is constantly moving from one place to another, afraid to stay and engage his feelings to anyone. Until he met Laura, a girl he saw in his dreams.
Laura’s sunny disposition is a breather in this sort-of-heavy novel. I like the way she view life, her kindness, and the love that she willingly give to anyone who comes her way. Even as a child, she just knew that she was different from anyone. Then, tragedy started to happen: deaths of her loved ones, headaches, accidents that were surreal. The only one who remained was Mr. B – the solitudinarian she met when she was a child, and the mysterious person in black who seemed to show himself every now and then. I find her sweet, but a little bit dramatic for my taste.
Mr. B is not a hermit but a solutudinarian. After his wife died, he lived alone in his cottage near the lake with his dog. He met Laura, and everything changed. She was the daughter than she never had. I love him, and I love the care and devotion he gave to Laura. The way he was willing to risk her life to save her was admirable. It was clear that she was the light of his life when he lost everything around him. I love their playful banters and word play – yes, both of them were word whores that love to get their hands on thesaurus.
X-10’s intense passion on violence and revenge was overwhelming that you can feel it palpating in the pages of the books. Unlike his twin, Laura – he didn’t grow up in a normal environment. Instead, he was caged like an animal and was a guinea pig for science experiments of the government. This pushed him to haunt Laura and seek revenge for everything she has and everything he didn’t. Yes, he was scary and he’s the type of character that can give you nightmares.
The Man in Black is the mysterious guy who seemed to be everywhere. Who is he? Is he one of those people that save the world from aliens? Is he a friend or enemy? This question hunted me for some time while reading A Human Element . His character is vague at first that you’d want to learn more about him and what is going on inside his mind – and boy, I was in for a big surprise with the sudden twist in the story.
This story is more of a sci-fi rather than romance – for those who are expecting a great love story, then you will be in for a disappointment. But for those who are in for adrenaline rush pumping – I’d have you read this one. Only thatthere are times I couldn’t keep up with the time pacing. Especially when I stopped on the previous chapter and the next chapter holds a different year. I wish there was a year below each chapter title. It would have made my life a little easier. Nevertheless – I didn’t regret I went out of my usual genre to read this one.
(reviewed within a month of purchase)
on July 26, 2012 :
On a summer night in 1979 nine year old Ben Fieldstone's life was forever changed, and not for the good. Determined to teach his parents a lesson Ben ran away from the summer cottage they were staying at in Coopersville, NY. He didn't go far just on the other side of the lake but it was that act of defiance that saved his life. A meterorite hit his cottage and others in the small town killing all those inside, including his parents. Ben went from foster home to foster home until he was eighteen and then joined the Navy. Constantly plaqued by memories of the night his parents died Ben turned to alcohol until he was finally discharged. For years he lived by the bottle totally alone until a friend helped him change his life for the better.
Laura Armstrong's life began very dramatically, her mother Sarah died giving birth to her and her twin. While a government official waited outside the delivery room Sarah gave birth to a twelve pound monster, a boy they called X-10. Sarah died from all the bleeding and it was then that the doctor realized there was another baby, a perfect little girl he called Laura and kept hidden from the government. Laura was adopted by the Armstrong's who raised her in a happy home full of love until Laura began to show signs that she had special powers and out of fear they kept her home schooled and away from others who might harm her. Laura could sense the thoughts of others but even more than that she had the ability to heal.
Suddently Laura's family and friends begin to die, and she is warned that someone is after her. In her hope of not causing anymore harm to those she loves she refuses to use her powers, especially her power to heal since she was unable to save the people most important to her. Laura begins having terrible nightmares where a man is determined to kill her. Who is this man? Can this man be the monster her mother gave birth to that tragic night? Laura leaves her life behind and returns to Coopersville to find answers. Was it a meterorite that actually landed there years ago? Can she get back the powers she has abandoned for years in time to destroy the person who is after her?
When Laura returns to Coopersvile she meets Ben who has also returned there to find answers about his parents death. The two have an instant bond and realize that they were destined to meet. Is what happened to the two of them so many years ago connected in some way? Can they find the answers they so desperately want? Can the two of them finally have a normal life together free of the past?
This was a wonderful book and Ms. Galanati takes the reader through Laura and Ben's lives in detail. She has written about two wonderful characters both touched by tragedy and both seeking a way to put the past to rest. I can't recommend this book highly enough. It is full of suspense and keeps you guessing until the end.
Reviewed by: Linda Tonis
Member of the Paranormal Romance Review Team
(reviewed within a month of purchase)